My Journey began many years ago, all the way in the back of a classroom. Always hiding, always a shadow. Smart, but lacking confidence, too afraid to raise a hand, to afraid to ask or answer a question.
My first college experience wasn’t too good. Yes, I walked away with a degree but it was the wrong field. I didn’t do too well. I was never confident enough to pursue that field. I wound up taking one nowhere job after another. There was really no meaning to these jobs for me. I had been given an opportunity to return to school and something instinctively kept telling me to go back and try again. My return started out the same as my earlier experience, still a major lack of confidence, but I was in a field of interest. As my journey in Kingsborough Community College deepened, I came across faculty who saw something more in me. They pushed and encouraged me to get that inner voice to come out. I began to feel more confident and would say “wow someone wants to hear what I have to say or know how I feel”.
I found myself slowly inching my way to the front of the room. I felt enough confidence to answer a question if called upon. The encouragement continued and my progression from the back of the room to the front had followed. Through reflections and journal keeping, reading feedback on my papers, or just verbal praise, something clicked.
My major turnaround was when I began my first Domestic Violence Prevention Internship. Myself and fellow interns were instructed to create a presentation that would be effective in educating my peers as to the dangers of DV, as well as the warning signs. For the first time I was actually free to create something that would give my life a little meaning. This could help save someone, I would think to myself. After a few days, I looked at my fellow interns and began to feel that I wasn’t alone anymore. I saw they shared the same passion as I had to help others. With the encouragement from my professor, I joined Project A.C.E. as president. Who would have thought little ole me from the back of the room, president. My confidence rose higher, I felt a change in me. Without even realizing I slowly lead the internship, took an interest in promoting my new-found cause by creating brochures to be given out at the presentations, and revealed things about myself I never told anyone. I was shocked to see how quickly my fellow interns opened up as well. This took our presentation to a whole new direction, it was now filled with true experiences that made it more authentic. Throughout my internship, the professor kept encouraging us to be ourselves and express what we felt. We received praise, and at times comments of amazement for what we had done.
I remember after my first presentation for the first time I felt a true sense of pride and purpose. I saw most of my brochures disappear into the hands of my peers.I remember even having the courage to reveal that a story I told the audience was about me. This truly was an amazing experience.
I now only sit in the front of the room, eager to learn and participate in questions. It’s a huge change for me, having grown up with really no self-confidence or self-worth, no matter how I tried, I was never good enough. My life had really no meaning or purpose, my career choice was hidden away and many wrong choices have been made. I found because of the college faculties guidance and encouragement, I was able to find clarity as to what I really wanted to do and no fear of another wrong choice, and I now have a real sense of meaning and purpose in my life, as well as career decision, in every essence I found my voice.
On May 22, 2014 I stood up in front of peers and professionals and presented at an international conference, which is an illustration of the change in myself that brought about by faculty encouragement trust and confidence. Never would I have even dreamed that I would be writing about how much this experience has changed my life for the better, never mind being able to share it in front of a crowded room. Thank you for listening to my story.
Written by: Kristina Yiannaki
Mental Health, Concentration: Domestic Violence
Professor: Dr. Charles Guigno